ESOL & Migrant Education

Assessing English Language Learners


Classroom assessments 

 Assessment strategies


 Standardized Tests 

 Accommodations 6a-6.09091 

The District Student Progression Plan is the basis for making decisions pertaining to student grading.  Please refer to the section that deals with grading student performance in the District's Student Progression Plan.


Like other students, the knowledge and skills of ELL students in Sarasota County schools are assessed in a variety of ways.

Classroom assessments for ELL students should be a mix of modified traditional measures and alternative assessments (such as performance assessments and portfolios). The focus should be on documenting individual student growth over time, rather than on comparing ELL students with native-English-speaking peers. Such assessments emphasize measurement of what ELL students know and can produce over time as their English proficiency improves. The teacher of an ELL student should consider the student's language proficiency, cultural background, educational background, grade level, and developmental level. For assistance in classroom assessment and grading, refer to our comprehensive list of classroom assessment strategies and modifications.

Statewide standardized assessments, such as the FCAT, is required by the state of Florida. The administration of these assessments is governed by state law and regulation. The School Board of Sarasota County does not exempt ELL students from taking the FCAT.
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Classroom Assessments & Grades for ELL Students

As with all assessment, testing and grading of ELL students requires valid measurement of a learner's growth. The following are recommended:

      Alternative assessment  

    • checklists
    • cloze
    • conferencing
    • demonstrations
    • drawings & models
    • games
    • oral tests
    • peer-assessment
    • performance
    • portfolios
    • projects (individual and group)
    • self-assessment
    • teacher observation
    • rubrics

      Asking questions  

    • lower and higher cognitive demand
    • thinking
    • comparing
    • elaborating
    • synthesizing
    • evaluating

      CALLA - Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach

    • content-based language activities
    • emphasizing academic vocabulary
    • emphasizing study skills
    • note-taking skills
    • teaching learning strategies

     Modified traditional assessment

    • dictionary allowed
    • extended time
    • flexible setting
    • labeling & fill-ins
    • modified length
    • modified number of questions
    • open-note, open-book
    • reduction of non-essential text
    • word banks

     Native language support  

    • bilingual aide
    • bilingual dictionary support
    • native language assessment
    • translation 
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Classroom Modifications for ELL students

Teachers of ELL students can use the following approaches to improve the comprehensibility of daily instruction and support students in the content areas as they acquire English. These styles and strategies of teaching and learning are meant to increase the amount of meaningful communicative instruction and learning in the classroom. Click here for more detailed assessment strategies.

Classroom Practices
Listening & Speaking
Assignments & Assessment 
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R1 – Analyze text in order to anticipate comprehension problems.

R2 – Activate prior knowledge students have about a topic.

R3 – Provide opportunities for pre-reading activities such as brainstorming and vocabulary preview activities.

R4 – Identify and teach essential vocabulary. Teach vocabulary in semantic groupings and word families.

R5 – Limit vocabulary and spelling lists to 12 words or less and build up.

R6 – Use concrete referents, such as visuals, maps, pictures, props, demonstrations, manipulatives, and gestures to increase comprehension.

R7 – Encourage the use of bilingual dictionaries and native language materials.

R8 – Help students to guess word meanings for clarification by using context clues, cognates, and knowledge transferred from the home language.

R9 – Model comprehensive strategies with students.

R10 – Divide reading passages into chunks for questions, predictions, and summaries.

R11 – Reduce required reading material. Eliminate non-essential text.

R12 – Use Directed Reading, Thinking, and Listening Activity (DRTLA).
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W1 – Teacher-modeled writing and teacher-modeled responses.

W2 – Give students opportunities to use diagrams, charts, and graphic organizers, such as: concept mapping, consequences diagrams, flow charts, I-charts, KWLH, language ladders, venn diagrams, word webbing.

W3 – Have students keep a personal vocabulary book or glossary that could also include home language translations or pictures.

W4 – Incorporate the use of word walls.

W5 – Ask students to retell or restate orally as well as in writing.

W6 – Use variety: journals (dialogue, response, daily, anticipatory), outlining, process writing, guided writing, modeled, shared, poetry, narrative, expository, comic strips, language experience.

W7 – Use computer-assisted instruction, such as grammar and spelling support in word processing.

W8 – Encourage use of bilingual dictionaries.

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C1 – Plan cooperative activities to include students who can translate/interpret.

C2 – Set clear expectations, procedures, and goals.

C3 – Connect lessons with students’ own culture or experiences.

C4 – Check frequently for understanding.

C5 –Avoid over-correction in errors of pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary.

C6 – Use preferential seating.

C7 – Reinforce effort and provide recognition.

C8 – Use cooperative learning strategies.

C9 – Assign reasonable homework and practice. Student should be able to work independently with little or no family support according to English level.

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LS1 – Speak at a slightly slower pace.

LS2 – Use repetition.

LS3 – Clarify and rephrase instructions frequently.

LS4 – Recap important ideas and highlight main points.

LS5 – Ask students to summarize passages that have been read aloud.

LS6 – Control and simplify the vocabulary you use.

LS7 – Use simpler verb tenses such as present, simple past, or future.

LS8 – Accept words and phrases initially and build towards the use of longer sentences.

LS9 – Use variety of technology, media, books on tape or CD, video, DVDs with subtitles, drawings, photos, pictures, streamed audio, chants, and music to support spoken instruction.

LS10 – Use cooperative groups and peer support, such as group projects, corners, centers, jigsaw, think-pair-share, numbered heads, peer tutoring, reciprocal teaching, field experiences.

LS11 – Use creative drama and total physical response techniques, such as: finger plays, pantomime, puppetry, reader's theatre, role play, storytelling, dance and movement.

LS12 – Encourage use of bilingual support from aides.
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A1 – Establish consistent classroom routines.

A2 – List steps for completing assignments.

A3 – Reduce choices on multiple choice exercises; provide choices for essay questions.

A4 – Simplify test directions and provide examples and test items.

A5 – Vary the form of questions asked to allow for different levels of comprehension and participation. Include both lower and higher cognitive demand, metacognition, comparing, elaborating, synthesizing, and evaluating.

A6 – Minimize the use of negatives in questions and test items.

A7 – Give open-note and open-book quizzes and tests.

A8 – Provide word lists/banks for support; use images and clip art in activities, quizzes, and tests.

A9 – Give extra time for task completion.

A10 – Provide alternate assessments for ELL students such as oral tests, rubrics, portfolios, interviews, individual/group projects.

A11 – Maintain academic and intellectual challenge while simplifying language levels.

A12 – Use Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach (CALLA): content-based language activities, emphasizing academic vocabulary, emphasizing study skills, note-taking skills, teaching learning strategies.

A13 – Focus on content over form; allow developmental spelling and grammar.

A14 – Modify traditional assessments by reducing linguistic demand, reducing number of items, simplifying grammar.
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 Standardized Tests for ELL Students

  Currently, the statewide assessment program collects the following achievement information:

  • FCAT: The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test® (FCAT) is part of Florida’s overall plan to increase student achievement by implementing higher standards.  FCAT measures student progress toward meeting the Sunshine State Standards (SSS) benchmarks.
  • Reading 3-10
  • Mathematics 3-10
  • Science 5, 8, & 11
  • Florida Writes is the student performance writing assessment administered at grades 4,8, & 10;
  • CELLA: Florida uses the Comprehensive English Language Learning Assessment (CELLA) to measure the growth of students classified as English Language Learners (ELLs) in mastering the skills in English they will need to succeed in school (listening, speaking, reading & writing.
  • The Florida Alternate Assessment is a performance-based assessment. It is designed for students with significant cognitive disabilities for whom participation in the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test® (FCAT) is not appropriate, even with accommodations.

For further information, please visit the Research and Assessment webpage.

Please read the       for a specific description of all allowable ELL modifications.

Modifications are allowed for ELL students taking the Florida Writing Assessment and the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT).

Districts are required to offer FCAT accommodations to ELL students who are currently receiving services in a program operated in accordance with an approved District ELL Plan, but the exact combination of accommodations to be offered to any particular student shall be individually determined, considering the needs of the student.

Sarasota County does not allow ELL students to be exempt from taking standardized tests. The following information pertains to exemptions in testing ELL students:

1. Florida allows that when students are tested in district norm-referenced testing programs, those who currently are classified as LY and have been in an approved ELL program for fewer than two years may be exempted from the test. However, Sarasota County chooses not to allow exemptions because exempted students must be assessed through other means. No such means are currently unavailable.

2. Florida allows that students currently classified as LY who have been in an approved ELL program for fewer than two years may be exempted from taking the Grade Ten Assessment Test and the Florida Writes performance writing assessment. However, Sarasota County does not currently allow exemptions, because exempted students must be assessed through other means. No such means are currently available.


Florida's K-12 Statewide Assessment Program (beginning 2010-11)

Beginning with the 2010-2011 school year, the statewide assessment program will begin transitioning to assessing student understanding of the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards through the implementation of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test® 2.0 (FCAT 2.0) and Florida End-of-Course (EOC) Assessments. Selected grades and subjects will continue to participate in FCAT assessments until the final transition is complete. The proposed schedule for this transition is posted at

The Department of Education does not plan to provide translated versions of the HSCT, GTAT, or Florida Writes assessment tests. Districts are not required to provide translated versions of locally used norm-referenced tests but are required to provide alternative assessment of the academic achievement of ELL students who have been exempted from district and statewide testing programs.


ESOL & Migrant Education
1960 Landings Boulevard
Sarasota, Florida 34231
(941) 927-9000 ext. 34325

For more information, visit the Office of Academic Achievement through Language Acquisition.




Pupil Support Services
Sonia Figaredo-Alberts, Executive Director

Julie Zarling, Administrative Assistant

Phone: 941-927-9000, ext. 31109
Fax: 941-927-4052
1960 Landings Boulevard
Sarasota, Florida 34231
Green 3rd Floor

Exceptional Student Education
Tammy Cassels, Supervisor

Miriam Blosser, Administrative Assistant

Phone: 941-927-9000, ext. 34226
Fax: 941-927-4014

Student Services
Debra Giacolone, Supervisor

Sally Dean, Administrative Assistant

Phone: 941-927-9000, ext. 34754
Fax: 941-361-6157

School Health Services
Suzanne Dubose, Supervisor

Phone: 941-927-9000, ext. 34765
Fax: 941-927-4108

Florida Department of Health Sarasota County
Karen McCormack, Supervisor
Phone: 941-927-9000, ext. 32101

Alternative Education, Discipline & Dropout Prevention
Dr. Dawn Clayton, Supervisor

Karen Frantz, Administrative Assistant
Phone: 941-927-9000, ext. 31113

ESOL and Migrant Education
Jamie Rodriguez, Supervisor

Tracey Cardenas, Program Manager
Phone: 941-927-9000, ext. 32247

Tamika Herring-Snead, Administrative Assistant
Phone: 941-927-9000, ext. 34330

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